30 June 2008

The Bush administration vs. the environment (again)

It's no secret that George W. Bush loses no sleep worrying about the environment. He is much more concerned with letting big business do whatever they want without having to comply with any pesky regulations.

But now he has taken it to a new level of absurdity, as the New York Times reported last week that "The White House in December refused to accept the Environmental Protection Agency’s conclusion that greenhouse gases are pollutants that must be controlled, telling agency officials that an e-mail message containing the document would not be opened."

Yep. Don't shoot the messenger, just ignore the message. If you don't open the e-mail, maybe the problem it describes will just go away.

And now the Pentagon is following the lead of its Commander in Chief by ignoring its own environmental issues and refusing to do anything about them. As today's Washington Post reports, "The Defense Department, the nation's biggest polluter, is resisting orders from the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up Fort Meade and two other military bases where the EPA says dumped chemicals pose 'imminent and substantial' dangers to public health and the environment."

Keep in mind that this nonsense is being funded by our tax dollars. These arrogant, belligerent, irresponsible people -- in the White House and the Pentagon -- have their salaries paid for with our tax dollars. What a gross misuse of our hard-earned money!

Let's hope that the next administration actually cares about what kind of planet we will leave to our children and grandchildren. The lives of our future generations will depend on it. Literally.

29 June 2008

Supreme Court again sides with the rich

One of the many problems I have with U.S. politics is that the rich often have an advantage in any electoral race. They can spend their millions out-advertising their rivals. And this presents a handicap to any candidate who might be better qualified but not rich. So, except in cases like Barack Obama, who can inspire unprecedented fundraising from the grassroots, we run the risk of ending up with rich but unqualified elected officials, like the current occupant of the White House.

The 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law (officially known as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002) attempted to address this through its "millionaire's amendment", which afforded special fundraising privileges to candidates who were running against a rival who spent $350,000 or more of their own money on their campaign.

But now on June 26th, in a 5-4 vote in the case of Davis v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the rich guy and declared that the "millionaire's amendment" is unconstitutional.

Money talks. Fairness walks.

Dissenting were (unsurprisingly) Justices Stevens, Breyer, Ginsburg, and Souter.

27 June 2008

It's only appeasement when the Dems do it

On May 15, George W. Bush gave a speech to the Israeli Knesset in which he took an apparent swipe at Barack Obama's promise of diplomacy in foreign policy.

"Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along," Bush told his audience.

He added, "We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

So, in Bush's world, you muscle your way through life. Diplomacy is for wimps, i.e., appeasers.

Like with North Korea. You point your finger and name it as part of the "axis of evil". Tough guy.

But wait a minute. Six years later, Bush has decided to remove North Korea from the U.S. terrorism blacklist, because non-violent diplomacy has produced some desireable results.

On the other hand, when Barack Obama speaks out in favor of diplomacy as opposed to knee-jerk military action, he is accused of appeasing our enemies.

Of course, I suppose we should be used to that sort of thing by now. Besides, Obama's references to diplomacy have been in regard to heavily oil-laden Middle Eastern countries. So there is a difference.

26 June 2008

The Supreme Court gives Big Oil a break

Messing up and getting away with it is a hallmark of the Bush administration.

And now the Supreme Court is letting big oil get away with their own reckless mess with a slap on the wrist rather than the vigorous spanking they deserve.

Yesterday, in a 5-3 decision related to Exxon Mobil's responsibility in the Exxon Valez disaster, the Supremes reduced the original $5 billion punitive damages award against Exxon Mobil down to about $500 million. So now they only have to pay about one-tenth of the original amount.

At least Justice Samuel Alito had the integrity to recuse himself from the case because he owns Exxon stock.

By the way, according to the Associated Press, first-quarter profits at Exxon Mobil Corp. were $10.9 billion. The company's 2007 profit was $40.6 billion.

25 June 2008

Some prophetic words from Thomas Jefferson on banks and corporations run amok

Today's New York Times leads with an article titled "Approval Is Near for Bill to Help U.S. Homeowners". This piece of legislation includes "a refinancing program aimed at rescuing hundreds of thousands of homeowners in danger of foreclosure and the most sweeping government overhaul of mortgage financing since the New Deal."

We'll see.

Of course, this seems like a mere afterthought, since our federal government's initial reflex response to the mortgage crisis was to bail out Bear Stearns.

So it is interesting to reflect on some words that Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter to James Monroe on January 1, 1815:
If the American People ever allow the banks to control the issuance of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers occupied. The issuing power of money should be taken from the bankers and restored to Congress and the people to whom it belongs. I sincerely believe the banking institutions having the issuing power of money are more dangerous to liberty than standing armies.

We are completely saddled and bridled, and the bank is so firmly mounted on us that we must go where they ill guide.

The dominion which the banking institutions have obtained over the minds of our citizens ... must be broken, or it will break us.

24 June 2008

More fun with the politics of fear

The McCain campaign has been rightly taking flack for comments that McCain's chief strategist, Charlie Black, made to Fortune magazine:
The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an "unfortunate event," says Black. "But his knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who's ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us." As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. "Certainly it would be a big advantage to him," says Black.
Yes, he actually said on record that another terrorist attack would be an advantage.

Unbelievable. But not really.

Well then, Mr. Black, if the Republicans are so good at fighting the "war on terror", why is Osama bin Laden still at large?

Consider also that the Republicans often cite the fact that there haven't been any more terror attacks on U.S. soil since 9/11 as "proof" that their post-9/11 policies are working. If another attack does happen while a Republican occupies the White House, wouldn't it blow away that argument?

But, of course, those fear tactics leave no room for logic or reason.

23 June 2008

George Carlin, RIP

Comedian George Carlin died last evening of heart failure. He was 71.

Carlin, with his irreverent insights, was an activist's comedian. He wasn't afraid to point a finger at authority and expose the absurdity of many of society's rules and mores.

He will be missed.

22 June 2008

Is the Fourth Amendment dying?

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was designed to protect us from unreasonable searches and seizures.

It specifically states the following:
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
Seems rather straightforward, doesn't it?

Perhaps not any more.

On Friday, June 20, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a FISA "compromise" agreement by a vote of 293-129.

The only way this bill is a "compromise" is that it compromises the Fourth Amendment.

The Associated Press describes the bill as "setting new electronic surveillance rules that in effect shield telecommunications companies from lawsuits arising from the government's post-Sept. 11 warrantless eavesdropping on phone and computer lines in this country." In other words, Congress wants to make it legal for their big telecom donors to violate the Fourth Amendment. Hello, Big Brother!

Now it's off to the Senate, where the Dems don't really have a meaningful majority, and where the so-called leaders don't really seem to have a backbone. So I'm not optimistic.

It feels as though America is no longer the land of the free.

20 June 2008

Bush's "noble cause" revealed

It's still not clear how the war in Iraq is a "noble cause", as Bush describes it.

But maybe now we're starting to see the true cause, be it noble or otherwise.

Yesterday's New York Times led with a report that four big Western oil companies -- Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total, and BP -- are "in the final stages of negotiations this month on contracts that will return them to Iraq, 36 years after losing their oil concession to nationalization as Saddam Hussein rose to power."

There you go.

Saddam had kicked out the big oil companies run by Bush's and Cheney's buddies. Now Saddam is out of the way, and those companies can take over the Iraqi oil again and rake in lots of money.

Remember what Bush told the Iraqi people just before the invasion, when he gave Saddam 48 hours to leave Iraq: "In any conflict, your fate will depend on your action. Do not destroy oil wells."

Is this what 4,101 of our troops have died for?

19 June 2008

There are better alternatives to offshore oil drilling

Bush and McCain are now all keen on offshore oil drilling.

Yesterday, Bush urged Congress to lift the current ban that prohibits it. Then he blamed the Democrats for the high gas prices. (The good news: At least he didn't blame gay marriage.)

Meanwhile, McCain has reversed his position on offshore drilling, and is now for it as well. McCain wants to let each state decide whether to permit drilling off its shores.

But aren't there better alternatives?

McCain, at the same time, calls for the development of alternative energy resources. That's good. But why not just put all our money and effort into alternative energy and forego the offshore drilling?

After all, although McCain said recently that offshore drilling would be "very helpful in the short term for resolving our energy crisis," that's not exactly true. According to David Lightman of McClatchy Newspapers, "Opening America's coastal waters to oil drilling, as John McCain urged in an address Tuesday, is unlikely to provide Americans with more oil for at least seven to 10 years."

What if we took that money that would be spent on offshore drilling and instead invest it in renewal energy research and development over those same 10 years? By then it's quite likely that we could have the resources, technology, and infrastructure in place to be energy independent -- or close to it.

After all, this is America.

Or is it anymore?

18 June 2008

McClatchy's bold and brave revelations on Gitmo detainees

The McClatchy newspaper organization is currently running a 5-part series called "Guantanamo: Beyond the Law". The series is based on an eight-month investigation in which McClatchy reporters traveled to 11 different countries and interviewed 66 people who were formerly held as prisoners in Guantanamo and Afghanistan.

The interviews confirmed much of what we in the human rights community have suspected all along. But their revelations are stunning, shocking, disgusting, and horrifying nonetheless.

The headlines alone tell us so much:

Sunday: "We got the wrong guys"

Monday: "I guess you can call it torture"

Tuesday: "A school for Jihad"

Wednesday: "Due process is legal mumbo-jumbo"

Thursday: "You are the king of this prison"

These accounts should be read by each and every American.

>> Learn more and read the stories now.

Sadly, by doing its job as a watchdog and informer, McClatchy is in the minority in today's mainstream corporate-controlled media. And that is one big reason why the torture, abuse, and injustices continue in Guantanamo, Afghanistan, and elsewhere -- paid for by your tax dollars and mine.

Huge kudos to McClatchy. More mainstream "journalists" should show such strength and integrity.

17 June 2008

Is McCain backer worse than Rev. Wright? (and where is the media outrage?)

Are the media pundits continuing to give John McCain a free ride?

This past spring, Barack Obama came under fire for comments made in the past by his former paster, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. It got so bad that Obama eventually resigned from that church, even though Wright is no longer the pastor.

Now the shoe is on the other foot, as we discover that a major McCain supporter, Texas oilman Clayton Williams, once joked that women should relax and enjoy being raped. He said, "As long as it's inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it."

Does this man have a mother? A grandmother? A wife? A daughter? Would he joke this way if one of them were raped?

From Wright, we heard the impassioned pleas of a man who lived through the civil rights era and still harbors a lot of pent-up frustration with the system.

From Williams, we heard..... what?!

As a result of these revelations, McCain's people said last Friday that they had canceled a fundraiser that Williams had offered to host. But that suggests that these comments are some kind of new revelation, when in fact they were aired in a 1990 campaign ad when Williams was running against Ann Richards for the Texas governorship. Don't McCain's campaign aides know about Google?

Now it seems it doesn't matter, because a new report by the Houston Chronicle indicates that the fundraiser was merely postponed until later in the summer. So McCain is apparently going to accept Williams' support, even as he is trying to reach out to Hillary Clinton's disappointed supporters.

This is an outrage. But where is the outrage among the media? While there has been some mention of Williams' rape comments, this matter doesn't seem to be getting nearly as much attention as the Reverend Wright scandal.

Oh, yeah: Reverend Wright is an "angry black man". Williams is just a rich white guy who made a bad "joke".

This is America in 2008.

16 June 2008

Saudis may increase oil production (but not for Bush)

Last month, George W. Bush visited his buddy King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and asked that the Saudis increase oil production in an attempt to reduce gasoline prices. King Abdullah "resisted" Bush's pressure, instead blaming speculation, not supply shortages, for the high prices.

Now, however, according to the British newspaper The Independent, Saudi Arabia has indicated that it "will raise oil production to record levels within weeks in an attempt to avert an escalation of social and political unrest around the world."

This comes after King Abdullah met with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon over the weekend to discuss the issue.

This seems to suggest that Bush has no more clout, not even in the oil business. But the international community -- when they negotiate nicely -- can get more positive results.

15 June 2008

Bush regrets tough talk, but McCain keeps it up

One of the many disturbing episodes from George W. Bush's first term was when he couldn't think of any mistakes that he had made.

On April 13, 2004, when asked during a press conference what he felt his biggest mistake was after 9/11, Bush replied:
"I wish you would have given me this written question ahead of time, so I could plan for it. [Laughter.] John, I'm sure historians will look back and say, gosh, he could have done it better this way, or that way. You know, I just -- I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer, but it hadn't yet."
Now, for whatever odd reason, Bush seems to see that he has made at least one mistake.

On Wednesday, June 11, in an interview with the British newspaper The Times, Bush expressed regret for the tough rhetoric that had given the world the impression that he was a "guy really anxious for war." He said he now wishes that he had used "a different tone, a different rhetoric." Too little, too late, of course, but interesting nonetheless.

John McCain, on the other hand, continues with his own warmongering rhetoric, and the right-wing pundits continue to criticize Barack Obama for desiring diplomacy over knee-jerk military aggression.

14 June 2008

Tim Russert, RIP

I was shocked and saddened to hear the news yesterday that NBC's Tim Russert had suddenly collapsed and died while on the job. He was only 58 years old.

Russert was known for doing his homework and using facts and direct quotes to confront his interview subjects and hold them accountable. Sometimes I thought that he didn't press the politicians hard enough, but he always seemed fair and very, very well informed. He clearly knew politics, and he knew how Washington works.

The remainder of this year's presidential campaign season will not be the same without his knowledge, insights, and well-reasoned passion for politics.

My condolences go out to his family, friends, and colleagues.

13 June 2008

Supreme Court restores habeas corpus rights for Gitmo detainees

Yesterday, in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the prisoners we're holding at Guantanamo Bay have a Constitutional right to challenge their detention in a federal court.

Justices Alito, Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas dissented.

This decision is a blow to the Bush administration's policy of holding prisoners indefinitely without charge and then trying them in kangaroo courts (i.e., a highly defective military tribunal system).

And it is a victory for those of us who believe in justice. Consider, for example, a study by Seton Hall University which found that 55 percent of Gitmo detainees are not determined to have committed any hostile acts against the United States or its coalition allies, and only eight percent were characterized as al-Qaeda fighters. Until now, they were at the mercy of George W. Bush's whims.

In an e-mail, Nan Aron of the Alliance for Justice shared the following observations in response to yesterday's ruling:
The Supreme Court has previously ruled on two separate occasions that people held at Guantanamo without charges can go to the federal courts to ask that the government justify their continued detention. Each time, the Bush administration and Congress changed the law in an attempt to prevent the detainees from accessing the courts.

While today's decision was a victory for the U.S. Constitution and fairness, it is a painful reminder of the precarious balance of the federal judiciary, and the need to remain vigilant when considering judicial nominees. More than 30 percent of all sitting federal judges have been appointed by President George W. Bush.
Indeed. And the possibilities are very disturbing when you consider that John McCain has said that, if elected President, he would appoint judges like Alito and Scalia to the Supreme Court.

Meantime, it will be interesting to see how the Bushies, who seem to believe that they are above the law, will react to this latest Court decision.

12 June 2008

Iraqis want us out of their country (and how Bush will spin it)

How would you feel if foreign military forces invaded your country, bombed it to bits, and stuck around for years further destroying property and harming innocent people? Your infrastructure has been destroyed, and you have very little security, electricity, or clean water. How would you feel? You'd want the invaders to leave, right?

Well, that's how the Iraqis feel about us. We've done enough damage there.

Today the British newspaper The Independent reports:
Senior Iraqi officials want a major reduction of the US military footprint in Iraq as soon as the UN Security Council mandate approving their presence expires at the end of the year. Iraqi officials also want US forces confined to barracks unless the Iraqis ask for their assistance. Emboldened by recent successes by Iraqi security forces, many officials want the US troops to leave altogether.
Now here's the rub:
President Bush, who is on a farewell tour of Europe, wants a new agreement sealed by the end of next month so he can declare a military victory in Iraq and say his 2003 invasion has been vindicated before he leaves office.
I should have seen it coming.

11 June 2008

Kucinich introduced articles of impeachment against Bush

It was beautiful. On Monday evening, June 9, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) introduced 35 articles of impeachment against George W. Bush.

Below is a summary. The full details on each count can be found at chun.afterdowningstreet.org/amomentoftruth.pdf.

Warning: Most of these charges are disturbing, like Bush's imprisonment of children. Be forewarned, but don't let yourself avoid the truth. Americans have been asleep for too long.
Article I
Creating a Secret Propaganda Campaign to Manufacture a False Case for War Against Iraq

Article II
Falsely, Systematically, and with Criminal Intent Conflating the Attacks of September 11, 2001, With Misrepresentation of Iraq as a Security Threat as Part of Fraudulent Justification for a War of Aggression.

Article III
Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction, to Manufacture a False Case for War.

Article IV
Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Posed an Imminent Threat to the United States.

Article V
Illegally Misspending Funds to Secretly Begin a War of Aggression.

Article VI
Invading Iraq in Violation of the Requirements of HJRes114.

Article VII
Invading Iraq Absent a Declaration of War.

Article VIII
Invading Iraq, A Sovereign Nation, in Violation of the UN Charter.

Article IX
Failing to Provide Troops With Body Armor and Vehicle Armor

Article X
Falsifying Accounts of US Troop Deaths and Injuries for Political Purposes

Article XI
Establishment of Permanent U.S. Military Bases in Iraq

Article XII
Initiating a War Against Iraq for Control of That Nation's Natural Resources

Article XIIII
Creating a Secret Task Force to Develop Energy and Military Policies With Respect to Iraq and Other Countries

Article XIV
Misprision of a Felony, Misuse and Exposure of Classified Information And Obstruction of Justice in the Matter of Valerie Plame Wilson, Clandestine Agent of the Central Intelligence Agency

Article XV
Providing Immunity from Prosecution for Criminal Contractors in Iraq

Article XVI
Reckless Misspending and Waste of U.S. Tax Dollars in Connection With Iraq and US Contractors

Article XVII
Illegal Detention: Detaining Indefinitely And Without Charge Persons Both U.S. Citizens and Foreign Captives

Article XVIII
Torture: Secretly Authorizing, and Encouraging the Use of Torture Against Captives in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Other Places, as a Matter of Official Policy

Article XIX
Rendition: Kidnapping People and Taking Them Against Their Will to "Black Sites" Located in Other Nations, Including Nations Known to Practice Torture

Article XX
Imprisoning Children

Article XXI
Misleading Congress and the American People About Threats from Iran, and Supporting Terrorist Organizations Within Iran, With the Goal of Overthrowing the Iranian Government

Article XXII
Creating Secret Laws

Article XXIII
Violation of the Posse Comitatus Act

Article XXIV
Spying on American Citizens, Without a Court-Ordered Warrant, in Violation of the Law and the Fourth Amendment

Article XXV
Directing Telecommunications Companies to Create an Illegal and Unconstitutional Database of the Private Telephone Numbers and Emails of American Citizens

Article XXVI
Announcing the Intent to Violate Laws with Signing Statements

Article XXVII
Failing to Comply with Congressional Subpoenas and Instructing Former Employees Not to Comply

Article XXVIII
Tampering with Free and Fair Elections, Corruption of the Administration of Justice

Article XXIX
Conspiracy to Violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965

Article XXX
Misleading Congress and the American People in an Attempt to Destroy Medicare

Article XXXI
Katrina: Failure to Plan for the Predicted Disaster of Hurricane Katrina, Failure to Respond to a Civil Emergency

Article XXXII
Misleading Congress and the American People, Systematically Undermining Efforts to Address Global Climate Change

Article XXXIII
Repeatedly Ignored and Failed to Respond to High Level Intelligence Warnings of Planned Terrorist Attacks in the US, Prior to 911.

Article XXXIV
Obstruction of the Investigation into the Attacks of September 11, 2001

Article XXXV
Endangering the Health of 911 First Responders
Last year, Kucinich introduced articles of impeachment against Dick Cheney, which seem to have gone nowhere. So I'm not optimistic that this impeachment effort against Bush will get very far. But I can hope that it will at least lead to some formal hearings, especially now that Florida Congressman Robert Wexler has signed on as a cosponsor.

Maybe we've reached the breaking point and Congress is finally going to take the gloves off. Or maybe not.

Next question: Will the mainstream (i.e., corporate) media cover this to any reasonable request? Probably not so much. I certainly haven't seen much there so far.

But a girl can dream.

Meantime, humongous kudos to Kucinich and Wexler for having the courage to speak truth to power.

10 June 2008

Gitmo interrogators told to destroy evidence

When I was a kid, there was a sitcom on TV called "Hogan's Heroes". The show centered around a group of Allied prisoners in a German POW camp during World War II. One of the main characters was the bumbling Sergeant Schultz, who would look the other way while the prisoners communicated "secretly" with Allied command and engaged in other hijinks. When called to account, Schultz's response was always, "I hear nothing! I see nothing! I know nothing!"

We've been hearing a lot of these kinds of denials from various members of the Bush regime over the past few years. And destruction of physical evidence. Like all those missing e-mails.

And now the Associated Press has alerted us to more evidence tampering:
The Pentagon urged interrogators at Guantanamo Bay to destroy handwritten notes in case they were called to testify about potentially harsh treatment of detainees, a military defense lawyer said Sunday.

The lawyer for Toronto-born Omar Khadr, Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler, said the instructions were included in an operations manual shown to him by prosecutors and suggest the U.S. deliberately thwarted evidence that could help terror suspects defend themselves at trial.

Kuebler said the apparent destruction of evidence prevents him from challenging the reliability of any alleged confessions.


"The mission has legal and political issues that may lead to interrogators being called to testify, keeping the number of documents with interrogation information to a minimum can minimize certain legal issues," the document is quoted as saying in an affidavit signed by Kuebler.
Yeah. Destroying the evidence of torture can keep to a minimum the application of laws that prevent courts from considering confessions and other info obtained via torture.

And destroying the evidence of torture can make it appear as though it never happened.

I hear nothing! I see nothing! I know nothing!

But, just as in Sergeant Schultz's case, the lack of corroborated evidence does not undo an action. It just keeps it hidden from those of us who give a damn. Just as the Bushies would have it.

That is not justice. And it only makes the terrorists more angry and the U.S. more vulnerable.

09 June 2008

Why Hillary's extremists must support Barack Obama

Even after Hillary Clinton has suspended her presidential campaign and endorsed Barack Obama, some of her staunchest supporters are still threatening to vote for McCain over Obama.

I still hear them in the coffee shops, the bus stops, and the supermarket checkout lines. Their candidate didn't win the Democratic nomination, so they'll respond by moving over to the dark side.

I understand that they are disappointed and disillusioned. But a vote for McCain would be against their best interests and the best interests of this nation and the world. As my grandmother used to say, it's like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

I understand that they love and admire Hillary Clinton, and that they so fervently hoped to see a woman elected to the highest office in the land. But they need to wake up and realize that Clinton and Obama hold very similar positions on most issues, while McCain's views are quite the opposite.

A vote for John McCain is a vote for a continuation of our senseless and deadly occupation of Iraq, justified and sustained by lies, spin, and ignorance.

A vote for John McCain is a vote for more torture.

A vote for John McCain is a vote against taking care of our war veterans.

A vote for John McCain is a vote for the same failed economic policies that have driven us into a recession and increased our national debt to grossly irresponsible levels.

A vote for John McCain is a vote for a government of, by, and for the special interests.

A vote for John McCain is a vote for more conservatives on the Supreme Court.

And -- Hillary supporters please take note -- a vote for John McCain is a vote for more government-sponsored misogyny.

In other words, a vote for John McCain is a vote for more of the same kinds of misguided and dangerous foreign and domestic policies that we've suffered with under the Bush regime.

So Hillary's militant supporters need to step back, take a deep breath, and ask themselves if their own stubbornness is really worth that high a price. And I hope they realize that the answer is "no".

08 June 2008

Congress calls for special counsel probe of the torture issue

An article in today's Washington Post tells us the following:
Nearly 60 House Democrats yesterday urged the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to examine whether top Bush administration officials may have committed crimes in authorizing the use of harsh interrogation tactics against suspected terrorists.
Sounds good. But.....

The Bush administration's justifications for torture came out of that same Justice Department. The lead perpetrators (Yoo, Bybee, Gonzales) no longer work for the Justice Department. But, judging by how current Attorney General Mukasey tapdanced around the issue at his confirmation hearings, I find it hard to believe that he would approve a truly impartial investigation that would get to the bottom of the issue.

And, if Mukasey has a choice in the matter, then there is something seriously wrong with the system.

06 June 2008

Will we make (and inspire) more al-Qaeda martyrs?

Yesterday, 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was arraigned before a U.S. military commission at Guantanamo Bay.

The prosecution says that he confessed to all kinds of terrorist activity -- whether under torture or not, we don't know, because it's all done so secretively.

He may get the death penalty. In fact, he is asking for it. He wants to be a martyr.

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I oppose the death penalty for a variety or reasons. This is another.

If we execute Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, we create another martyr. We create another legend. And we inspire more terrorists to follow in his footsteps in order to achieve the glory of martyrdom.

A true punishment would be to just lock them up and throw away the key. There's no glory in that.

05 June 2008

Remembering Bobby Kennedy

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. He was shot in the early morning hours of June 5, 1968, and died on June 6.

I was just a kid at the time, but I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of tragedy, sadness, and loss. I could tell that a very special person had been taken from us.

As I got older, I learned more about Bobby Kennedy and all that he stood for -- peace, racial equality, human rights, and helping the poor.

Today, on this sad anniversary, I think of how much better the world might be today if Bobby Kennedy had been allowed to live a long, full life.

Words cannot describe all the good that this man represented, so I will not try further right now. Instead, I will point you to a very moving eulogy delivered by his brother, Senator Edward Kennedy, on June 8, 1968, at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York:

>> Read, watch, or listen to the eulogy.

04 June 2008

19 years later, lessons from Tiananmen Square

Today, June 4, 2008, marks the 19th anniversary of the massacre at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China. On this date in 1989, hundreds (or, by some estimates, thousands) of people were killed in a military crackdown on anti-authoritarian and pro-democracy protesters.

I have an acquaintance from China whose wife (then girlfriend) was at Tiananmen Square just before the massacre occurred. Fortunately, she had left the scene just before the tanks rolled in. After the Tiananmen Square tragedy, they realized that there would be no chance for democratic reforms in China any time soon, so they moved to the U.S.

While we've seen some crackdowns on our own freedoms in recent years (under the Bush administration), we in the U.S. can be thankful that we still have it much better than those who live in repressive totalitarian regimes like the so-called People's Republic of China.

And we need to realize that democracy can be spread not by trying to force it on other countries at the point of a gun (see Bush's Iraq strategy) but rather by setting a positive example for the world through diplomacy and peaceful respect for human rights -- like we used to do in the good old days.

03 June 2008

Why Hagee's Antichrist statements make me mad

When a preacher delivers a politically incorrect sermon at Barack Obama's church, the headlines (and criticism) are enormous. But when Pastor John Hagee (friend of the Republicans and Joe Lieberman) says even worse things, we have to dig deep to find any media coverage.

Thank goodness for YouTube. Here we find an old 2003 video of Hagee warning us of the coming Antichrist. This Antichrist, Hagee tells us, "will have fierce features" and "is going to make Hitler look like a choirboy." When he first comes to power, he will "slaughter one-third of the Earth's population."

Then Hagee gets more personal, and tells us that this Antichrist will be "a blasphemer and a homosexual". And he's going to be partially Jewish.

Of course I am offended by this diatribe on so many levels. Not only does Hagee make his Antichrist out as a homosexual and a Jew (as opposed to a "proper" straight Christian), but a fierce one at that. Give me a break. I think of the gay people I know, including the Jewish ones, and they're some of the least fierce people on this planet.

And then there is Senator Joe Lieberman, a Jew, who still plans to deliver the keynote speech at Hagee's upcoming Christians United for Israel summit (possibly joined by Democratic congressman Elliot Engel).

Barack Obama had to go so far as to officially resign from the Trinity Church that he attended for 20 years in order to avoid further baggage from politically incorrect sermons by former Pastor Jeremiah Wright or any other controversial preacher who might cross that particular pulpit.

But Lieberman stands by his man Hagee, who takes political incorrectness to a far greater level.

Is this not a double standard?

Where is the outrage?

02 June 2008

McClellan's book

"What Happened", the new memoir by former White House press secretary Scott McClellan, is now on sale in bookstores nationwide.

Meantime, McClellan has been making the rounds on various talk shows, and the book has been getting a lot of press, good and bad.

From what I've seen of its contents, the book just confirms what we've known all along -- that the Iraq War waged on lies, the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson's identity came from the top, etc., etc., etc.

But McClellan was brave to write it, and I am going to buy a copy.

McClellan's life will never be the same. He has lost a lot of friends and political allies in writing this book. He has burned a lot of bridges. But at least, after his years of lying to cover Bush's ass, McClellan has come clean.

There is something to be said for that, even though it might appear opportunistic.

01 June 2008

Obama resigns from the church of controversy

Rev. Wright wasn't controversial enough, so Barack Obama's Trinity Church invited a guest preacher, a Catholic priest, who also gave a politically charged -- and politically incorrect -- speech. Of course the cameras were rolling. Not what Obama needs.

So he apparently decided that the Church was dragging him down with too much baggage, and he officially resigned from that congregation.

It's a shame that he had to make such a decision. One's spirituality is supposed to be a personal thing. And the preachers aren't running for president -- Obama is. Can Obama's critics say that they agree 100% with everything their own preachers say? It's guilt by association, and it should be irrelevant.

And Thomas Jefferson's wall of Church-State separation continues to crumble in a rather ironic way.

Has anyone bothered to parse every word uttered by every preacher at John McCain's church, if he has one? Probably not. And they shouldn't.

Just as they shouldn't worry about how Obama spends his private Sunday mornings.

Just as they took a relatively hands-off approach regarding George W. Bush's membership in Skull & Bones.